The 2012 BMW M3 doesn't have enough ratings to earn a valid Total Car Score. The below average preliminary Total Car Score doesn't square at all with the near mythical status this car has achieved among driving enthusiasts. Yet if you parse the scores that make up the TCS (and the sites awarding them), you can easily spot the reviewers who appreciate this icon's finer points. Those in the know tend to come to one inescapable conclusion: This could be the best car in the world.
BMW has created a gem with breathtaking acceleration, incredible road-holding, room for four and usable trunk space. The driving experience is involving without being tiring -- this machine could do half a dozen laps of a race track on the way home from work.
The V8 engine beneath that bulging hood makes its maximum horsepower at a screamingly high 8,300 rpm, just 100 rpm short of the redline. Peak torque also chimes in at a comparatively lofty level: 3,900 rpm. But at least it all sounds good while dispatching standstill to 60 mph in 4.5 seconds.
For 2012, there's a new generation of BMW 3 Series premium compact, but this M3 is still based on the previous generation. An M3 based on the new/current 3 Series is expected in 2013. The 2012 model year M3 comes only as a coupe or convertible; no sedan version. An iPod interface and Bluetooth are now standard. There are also some revisions to the option packages, while buyers of the convertible get to choose from a few new colors.
The four-seat 2012 BMW M3 comes as a coupe or convertible. It is the high-performance variant of the 3 Series range.
Propulsion comes from a 4.0-liter V8 engine developing 414 horsepower and 295 pound-feet of torque. This is sent to the rear wheels via a six-speed manual transmission. A seven-speed, dual-clutch automated manual with steering wheel-mounted paddle shifters is optional. The M3 also bristles with driver aids such as a locking rear differential, plus the ability to adjust throttle and transmission responses and save the settings.
The inventory of standard equipment includes automatic/adaptive headlights, rain-sensing wipers and leather/fabric upholstery. The convertible gets a retractable hard top and heat-reflective leather seating.
Options include heated front seats, voice-activated navigation, and rear parking sensors. A Competition package is available for the coupe, comprising an adaptive and lowered suspension, plus a re-calibrated stability control.
Standard safety equipment includes traction and stability controls, and corner braking control. There's also a brake wear indicator in the dashboard display. The convertible has pop-up rollover hoops.
EPA estimates for the 2012 BMW M3 coupe -- with either transmission -- are 14 mpg city, 20 mpg highway and 16 mpg combined. A convertible with the manual transmission is thirstier in the city by one mile per gallon.
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